Headed to the pharmacy? Ask questions!

A woman speaks to a pharmacist at the drug counter of a pharmacy or drug store. When you pick up your prescription, here are some questions you should ask you pharmacist.

You go to pick up your medicine, and the clerk asks, “Do you want to speak to a pharmacist?” Most people say no, but they shouldn’t! There are some questions you should ask before walking out the door with a prescription.

Safety first

Questions to keep on the tip of your tongue:

  • How does this medicine work? What is it used for? How long should I take it?
  • Are there any possible side effects?
  • Are there any potential interactions with other drugs I take?

I recommend filling your medicines at the same pharmacy (or chain) so they have a complete and up-to-date list of drugs you take. That helps the pharmacy identify potential drug interactions. Make sure you tell your pharmacist about any samples from your doctor, over-the-counter medications, and vitamins or supplements that you may be taking. These can also have unfavorable interactions with other medicines. Your pharmacist can help you learn how to use your prescription and over-the-counter medicines safely and effectively.

Worried about costs?

Yes, drug prices are a concern. Ask your pharmacist if there is a less expensive brand or a generic version of the medicine you were prescribed. You can also research options using your health plan’s drug-pricing tool. ConnectiCare members sign into connecticare.com to do that. 

Drug manufacturers sometimes offer coupons or discount cards. They usually have a section to enroll on their websites and tell you if there are any exclusions, such as Medicare. It’s worth asking the pharmacist about coupons (because they often see them).

Never skip doses or take less than prescribed to save money. Remember to fill all prescriptions at the same pharmacy to keep track of potential negative interactions.

Skip the pharmacy lines

Did you know that your ConnectiCare plan allows you to get a 90-day’s supply of most maintenance medications? This saves trips to the pharmacy. Also, ConnectiCare lets you get free home delivery for 90-day supplies of most maintenance medicines through Express Scripts. They even have a pharmacist available to call 24/7. That means you can ask important questions without ever leaving home.

Know your benefits

Your local pharmacist may not be able to answer questions about your plan and its drug coverage. But we can. Reach out to ConnectiCare Member Services or make an appointment to visit a ConnectiCare center.

We asked our members

In a survey of a group of ConnectiCare members, we found that some are putting on their consumer hats when filling prescriptions. But there is an opportunity to get more out of the pharmacy experience.  

  • Less than half said they talk to a pharmacist when picking up medicine.
  • 37% asked their pharmacist about money-saving alternatives.
  • One-third (33%) get prescriptions by mail today through Express Scripts.
  • 79% ask their doctor about possible side effects when getting a new prescription.
  • 66% asked their doctor for a generic medicine.

*Results of an online survey fielded by email between 10/29/2019-11/7/2019 to adult women and men who are ConnectiCare members.

About Jamie Reuter, PharmD, MBA, BCPS

Jamie Reuter, PharmD, MBA, BCPS, is vice president, enterprise pharmacy solutions. He is responsible for pharmacy services for members of EmblemHealth and ConnectiCare health plans. His experience spans practice in retail pharmacy, hospital, and critical care settings as well as teaching at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. Jamie received his Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the University of Toledo and a Master’s in Business Administration from the Carey School of Business at The Johns Hopkins University.